Thanksgiving can be a land mine of a meal. Creative cooks who tinker too aggressively with classic recipes may find themselves at the head of a table of disgruntled diners.
It’s hard to blame them. Thanksgiving is rooted strongly in culinary traditions. Now you go and add a layer of complexity — every family has a special way of roasting this, mashing that, baking those or stuffing these. Tinker too much, and you risk divorcing the meal of some of its meaning. Yet, cooks love to try new flavors, new techniques, new ingredients. None of which is easy to balance.
So to help you navigate, we’ve create dueling turkey recipes. Each is grounded in a classic roasting technique. But while one stays true to tradition, seasoning the big bird with sage, citrus, rosemary and thyme, the other reaches for ginger, sesame oil and chives to tease different but delicious flavors.
Which way will you go?
TRADITIONAL TURKEY AND GRAVY
Start to finish: 21/2 to 3 hours
12- to 14-pound turkey
For the compound butter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh sage
For the filling:
1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges
4 medium carrots, cut into large pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
For the gravy:
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove and discard the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity, if present. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey.
To prepare the compound butter, in a small bowl, mix together the butter, salt, pepper and sage. Rub the compound butter all over the turkey, making sure to get some under the skin.